ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tommy Hunter allowed a towering home run that ended a tough night for Baltimore’s bullpen.
Matt Joyce led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a homer against Hunter, giving the Tampa Bay Rays an 8-7 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday night.
“Just a not-executed pitch,” Hunter said. “Weren’t able to do that throughout that inning, and game’s over. It’s a pitch you’d like to have back. Execute a little better. Learn from it and move on.”
Shelley Duncan hit a three-run homer and Ben Zobrist had a pair of RBI singles for the Rays, who twice came from behind before wasting a late two-run lead.
Fernando Rodney (1-0) blew a save opportunity by allowing a run for the first time since last Aug. 18. Brian Roberts’ RBI double off Rodney in the ninth made it 7-all.
Chris Davis went 4 for 4 for the Orioles, hitting a three-run homer for the second straight day and driving in four runs. He also had an RBI single and two doubles.
“It was entertaining for most people here,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “Didn’t like the way it ended, but good things happened. We’ll dwell on those. Chris Davis continues to swing the bat. I liked the way our guys kept fighting back.”
Joyce, who had a bunt single as a pinch hitter in the seventh, won it by homering on a 2-1 pitch.
Duncan’s first hit for his new team finished a four-run sixth that wiped out an early 4-0 deficit. The Orioles regained a one-run lead in the seventh, only to watch the Rays answer with three more runs to go ahead 7-5.
But Baltimore wasn’t finished, scoring on Matt Wieters’ RBI single in the eighth and Roberts’ tying double.
Pedro Strop, the second pitcher to follow Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, was unable to hold the 5-4 lead Baltimore took on Nate McLouth’s run-scoring single in the seventh.
“I was right there … I was making good pitches,” Strop said. “(Balls were) just able to find holes.”
Joyce bunted for a single in the seventh and later scored on a wild pitch. Pinch hitter James Loney’s double put the Rays ahead and Zobrist’s second RBI single of the night made it 7-5.
Kelly Johnson beat the Orioles’ shift with a groundball single after Joyce bunted against the same defensive lineup.
“If they’re going to give you the opportunity then go ahead and take it,” Joyce said.
Davis’ homer came off Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, landing in the mostly empty stands in left-center field. After drawing a sellout crowd of 34,078 on Tuesday, attendance was announced as 15,599 for the middle date of a three-game series.
“We didn’t hand anything to them,” Davis said. “They went out and took it.”
The 27-year-old Chen won a team-leading 12 games as a rookie last season, the most wins by an Orioles pitcher since Erik Bedard won 13 in 2007.
“Wei-Yin presented himself well,” Showalter said.
Desmond Jennings, Evan Longoria and Jose Lobaton led off the first three innings against the left-hander with singles, but each of them was erased by double plays.
Down 4-0, Tampa Bay broke through in the sixth. Zobrist chased Chen with a two-out RBI single and Duncan’s homer made it 4-all.
“If we play the game properly, we’ll win a lot of games together,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
NOTES: Davis became the first Orioles player to have three or more RBIs in each of the season’s first two games. … 13 of Baltimore’s 14 runs this season — including 6 of 7 Wednesday — have come with two outs. … Dating to last season, Davis has four homers in his last five games against Tampa Bay. … Rodney, who did not get into the opener, brought a scoreless streak of 19 innings over 19 appearances into the season.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)